For immediate release
September 4, 2007
Commitment Comes in Advance of September 12 Strike Authorization Vote by 13,000 Casino and Laundry Workers
Las Vegas –The Culinary Workers Union Local 226, Bartenders Union Local 165 and their international parent union, UNITE HERE, announced today that through a combination of the local and international strike funds and a line of credit, they will have more than $80 million available to support the potential strike of more than 13,000 casino and laundry workers in Las Vegas and Reno.
“Of course no one wants a strike,” explained D. Taylor, Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer, “Unfortunately, some casino owners have made it clear that if we want to keep the Las Vegas Dream alive, we are going to have to fight for it. So we are letting the community and our members know that we are prepared to do what it takes to protect the standard our members have spent decades fighting for.”
The Culinary Workers Union Local 226 represents over 60,000 workers in Nevada. Members of the Culinary Union work in many classifications including cocktail waitresses, cooks, bellmen, kitchen workers, housekeepers, and other service workers. Over 12,000 workers in Las Vegas are still working under extended contracts and will hold a Las Vegas strike authorization vote on September 12th. A total of 17 Las Vegas hotels and casinos and 2 Las Vegas laundries could be affected by a strike (see list).
An additional 1,000 Culinary members at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike on August 30. If any of these workers decide to call a strike, these funds will make it possible for the union to pay strike benefits, offer support benefits and cover logistical costs indefinitely.
The locals have about $10 million in their strike fund; UNITE HERE, the international union of which the Culinary and Bartenders are affiliates, will make a pledge of $20 million in support from its strike fund; and the union has also secured a credit facility from the Amalgamated Bank that will be made available through October of 2008.
“A union is only as strong as its members, and our members in Nevada have shown their strength and commitment to the Las Vegas Dream through many negotiations and actions this year,” explained John Wilhelm, President/Hospitality Industries, UNITE HERE. “It is important for them to know that they have the support of their international union brothers and sisters, and that is what this pledge is all about. Our entire organization is coming together to support this struggle, because we all share the dream of good jobs and healthy families.”
The strike fund will be bolstered by a credit facility of more than $50 million secured by union assets and provide by the Amalgamated Bank. Amalgamated Bank is owned by UNITE HERE.
“The Amalgamated Bank was founded by immigrant union members who needed banking services when no one else would have them as customers,” explained Bruce Raynor, Chairman of the Amalgamated Bank and General President of UNITE HERE. “The bank is first and foremost a fiscally sound financial institution, but the bank is also committed to the ideals of its founders and its history of service. For a bank like ours, there is no higher calling than supporting workers on strike.”
Established in 1923, Amalgamated Bank has distinguished itself as the bank for unions, members and working people. The institution, which is a FDIC insured commercial bank with $4.5 billion in assets, provides a full-range of banking services to middle-market businesses, health care facilities, real estate developers and small businesses as well as financial and trust services to labor organizations, the public sector and corporations. The retail banking division has 10 branches in New York City as well as one branch in each of the following locations: New Jersey, Washington, D.C. and southern California. The Bank will open three, retail branches in Las Vegas later this year.
UNITE HERE is a union representing 450,000 members across North America in the laundry, food service, apparel and textile, and hotel industries.
For more information, please contact Pilar Weiss at (702) 386-5130 or [email protected]
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Properties facing a strike authorization vote:
Binion’s Plaza Al Phillips
El Cortez Tropicana Mission Industries
Four Queens Grand Sierra (Reno)
Las Vegas Club
Las Vegas Hilton